It’s quite a long time since I was last in Milan and I think I mainly went there for shopping on that trip. Last weekend was a very different visit. The main event this time was La Traviata at La Scala with Placido Domingo, but there was plenty of time to visit the Brera Gallery as well as the Museum of Modern Art – two very different art collections.

The Brera Gallery is mainly classic religious paintings – not my favourite art actually but I loved the frescos and enjoyed doing a quick sketch of a fresco rescued from an old peoples’s home – formally Villa Pelucca. The fresco depicts angels bearing St Catherine’s body to Mount Sinai.




Such rich colours on this 15th century fresco by Vincenzo Foppa – and the detail of the wind ruffling the carpet!!!

The Museum of Modern Art is housed in a beautiful palace once inhabited by Napoleon – the chandeliers and marble floors made a stunning backdrop for the temporary exhibition    of works by Angelo Morelli.

The pretty “A Garden at Colma” seemed to be quite out of character in this particular exhibition that showed Morelli as “The painter of the Elderly”. Lots of large pictures of deathbed scenes as well as the elderly in the workhouse.

After trekking round looking at so much art I felt empathy for his statue Exhaustion!!


Much more cheerful upstairs with pictures from all the favourites such as Matisse and Picasso!!

It’s amazing how Picasso is so unmistakable the moment you walk into a room!

But I had to ask where the Cezanne was!!!



Quite a Challenge!!!!!

Maureen did the honours today and produced two very challenging still – life subjects!!

Look at this! So many different elements – where to start!!!


I was very impressed by Sue’s interpretation! She was inspired by the beautiful “wood nymph” vase (made by Maureen herself) and produced a really delightful picture.




I was struggling so decided to abandon all the beautiful pieces of bark, twigs and feathers and just concentrate on the magnolias – always a  favourite flower of mine.

Chris was doing her own thing to very goof effect.

This was the second still life and Maureen’s picture.

IMG_2519Oonagh came as I was packing up so I’m not sure how she got on today!!



A few extra pictures from the Watercolour Group’s Still-Life last week. I think Christian’s finished painting very striking!!


Oonagh chose to do her picture in monochrome.

I managed to do a bit more to my picture as well



The East Finchley Open Artist group have been looking forward to the opening of the Primavera Exhibition in the Barbican Library. The Private View was this evening and I think just about the whole group were there providing a nice buzzy atmosphere. Some beautiful work is on display – the exhibition will continue right through March.

Myra has produced some stunning glasswork. There is complex pottery as usual from Jo. I forgot to check who had created the lovely leaves worked out of some sort of metal!!!

I was very impressed by Alvina’s landscape – it reminded me of Eric Ravilious.



I wore my new red cardigan to match my tulip picture!! It is a pity my Blossom and Beehives couldn’t be hung together with it.


Today at Highgate Watercolour Group

The first two Thursdays of the month are usually designated as Still-Life days and today was no exception. Christian brought along a miscellaneous collection of pots and pans as well as apples, and incredibly worked them into really interesting subjects to paint. There were some lovely pictures by the end of the morning.

It is Brenda’s turn to put some of her work on the notice boardfullsizeoutput_5571.

Freda brought in the Graphic Society”s book celebrating their centenary – she has a double page spread!!!

Now for some of this morning’s paintings!!!!

fullsizeoutput_5554This lovely picture is typical of Ulla’s work!!

I haven’t bothered to put mine on this post – I wasn’t at all pleased with the two I did!!!

Pierre Bonnard at the Tate Modern

I’m always a bit reluctant to go to the Tate Modern as it is such a bore to get there. So much easier getting to The Royal Academy or the National Gallery. AND a lot of nice restaurants close by. Anyway, quite a few people raved about the exhibition so despite having a bad back ever since my skiing trip, I made the effort yesterday.

So glad I did!!! And what a treat to have permission on my ticket to take photos!!

The first few rooms were very drab – dull colours, poor composition, poor draughtsmanship and I was really getting fed up! So many people pushing all around as well.

Then things began to look up!!! The first picture I really took notice of was a beautiful nude girl with an etherial wrap. Everything was bathed in light. I am always attracted to outlines and contrasts. That theme was repeated in a great many of his pictures.


Things just got better and better after that with many beautiful nudes, a lot with patterned backgrounds reminiscent of Matisse.

The famous bath pictures were in the exhibition!!! I think they are the main reason I have heard of Bonnard, they seem to be reproduced so often!!


And then I discovered his landscapes! I have booked tickets for “Picture the Heath” in June so was very keen to get some tips!

From a distance they seemed to be simple blocks of vivid colours  but turned out to be made up of rather complex patterns on closer examination. My favourite picture had dark red steps right in the centre – a very unusual idea.

Live Model at 10a This Morning

Christian booked a young guitarist, Stephanie, to model for us this morning. We started with 5 minute warm-up poses and after a coffee break, we had a longer 30 minute pose. Unfortunately I had to leave after that.

I was very much working on the back foot! I rather rashly swopped my  easel a few weeks ago with another member’s as she seemed to have the same easel but in black – mine was red, a colour I am a bit allergic to. However the “new” black easel was impossible to tighten and at one point the whole thing collapsed onto Freda’s table!!! She wasn’t very pleased but at least my board didn’t land on her head!!!

You could hear a pin drop in the studio – such concentration!!!! At the coffee break I went round to see what everybody had done. Hear are some of the pictures:

Freda didn’t seem to have been put off her stroke by my easel!! Lovely delicate work as usual!!!

Ed contemplating one of his sketches.


Sue is so well organised, I love her water bottle hanging at the side there!


I wasn’t pleased with efforts this morning! But all good practice I suppose!

Dramatic Visit to Toulouse

Not what I was expecting on the last day of my skiing holiday!

As we were flying home from Toulouse Airport in the evening, we made a point of arriving early to have lunch in the Victor Hugo Market and then have plenty of time to visit Les Augustin, Musee des Beaux Arts and maybe the Hotel d’Assezat.

No chance!! While in Place du Capitole, riot police were assembling everywhere! Shops were rolling up their blinds! We dived into a cafe still open for business and watched while the gilet jaunes streamed past along the Boulevard d’Arcole.






Many shop windows were damaged!!! We counted 15 riot police vans driving in procession to the main riot area, as well as a huge white lorry for those arrested. We witnessed tear gas being sprayed and a casualty lying beside the road. Things began to worry us when we were surrounded by the rioters as we tried to drive off to the airport. Actually a  pity I was unable to upload the video – it really captured the atmosphere and the very real threat that we would have a stone thrown at our car.

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Trip to Paris

Warm sunny days in Paris – so important when walking about and enjoying the lovely buildings and different street scene.

First we went to a fashion fair just one stop on the main line from Gare Du Nord. Much easier to get to and more -user friendly than Excel in Docklands. All very useful with a lot of eco-friendly and biodegradable products that we were interested in. I practiced quick sketches of the crowd!!!

We enjoyed a visit to Le Petite Palais.  As usual – always an interesting exhibition on there and such a wonderful building. The two exhibitions on at the moment are Fernand Khnopff, a Belgium artist from the last century, and JJ Lequeu.

The landscapes by Knopff were interesting. He only used his sister Marguerite as his model and muse, placing them in his pictures but without shadows so they appeared to float ethereally.

The most striking thing about his portraits  were the frames, beautiful embossed copper, engraved wood and intricately tooled gold – all his own design.


Private View at the HLSI

A very lively Private View this evening at the Highgate Literary and Scientific Institute for the Member’s Art Exhibition. I was pleased my Prague picture was accepted but very disappointed to see it was hung behind an open door along with my friend Chris’s picture. Anyway I never accept these situations without a protest and soon managed to have the door kept shut.

My ruse worked!!! Our pictures were noticed and I was pleased when Chris sold her’s!!!



The work was very varied. Very colourful pictures in oils, pastels, watercolours, acrylic – and such varied subjects!! Lots to capture the interest and people were in no hurry to leave.

Vanessa had three of her lovely watercolours from her home in Norfolk. Very modestly priced compared to the landscape next to her’s which was priced at £10,000!!!

The real bees were very effective in another picture but not immediately obvious until pointed out to me.

#watercolours #paintings #oilpaintings #exhibitions #acrylic #Prague #Highgate #London #